Online E-Business Plan Essay
Running head: ABC Corporation Online e-Business Growth Plan Online e-Business Growth Plan for ABC Corporation Valerian Coutinho Western Governors University Abstract ABC Corporation needs a new strategy to expand market penetration and grow annual revenues. This document details some of the strategies which can be utilized to build upon the current business model. The new e-business model will help the company build on the product differentiation strategy and also enable the company to create value added dependency for the current and new customers.
The e-business model can also be used to improve the company’s product branding across the globe and can be used as a stepping stone into moving aggressively into new emerging markets as well as maintain and increase current market share in North America. Introduction ABC Corporation is a US based publically traded Discrete Manufacturer. ABC manufactures wheels and wheel-end components for the Commercial Vehicle Industry. Some of the products the company makes are Aluminum and Steel Wheels, Brake Drums, Hubs, Rotors and Slack Adjusters.
Most of the products are used in the Class 5 to Class 8 Trucks, agricultural, specialty and military trucks. The company operates mostly in the North American (USA, Canada and Mexico) market with limited sales outside of North America. 55% of existing ABC sales come from the top 4 truck Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The rest of the sales come from OES (Original Equipment Services), Parts Distribution Centers (PDC), Warehouse Dealers (WD), buying groups, fleets and private garages. Online Viability of Products and Services Currently, the company has limited online presence.
The company has a website (www. ABCcorp. com[->0]) which is used to give basic information about the company, its current job openings and investor relations. The website was created in 2000. Data from goggle analytics for the entire year of 2011 indicates the following statistics for the company website as shown below in Table 1. The data states that 42. 44% of users log on to the current website and leave before accessing any other page. The total average customer stays on the current site for a minute and 40 seconds and accesses 3 pages on average.
It also states that most users are unique and only a small percentage of users are repeat customers to the website. Visits|Unique|Pages|Avg. Time|Bounce Rate| 54,287|39,306|3. 05|1:40|42. 44%| Table 1: Google Analytics Statistics for ABC for 2011 The company should revamp the current website and use the internet to provide valuable services to its current customer base as well as expand its customer base in North America. It can also use the site as a launching pad to expand the business around the globe. Some of the key new services which will help expand our current business model are as follows 1.
Order Entry with customer specific products and prices and delivery date confirmation. 2. Order Management and Tracking 3. Warranty/Return Authorization 4. Searchable Product Catalogs. This will help in building awareness to all products ABC sells. The search capability will greatly enhance customer’s curiosity and will also help in cross-selling other products which the customer is not aware off. The new product catalog with pictures and videos will also help with product awareness in major global markets since the product catalog can be configured, searched and viewed for multiple languages.
The product catalog can also be configured to allow the end user to search by Truck Manufacturer and Model and provide them with all related products which can be used. 5. Access to Customer Service and Field Engineers for online help. 6. Accessibility in multiple languages. 7. Locate service shops within a specified range. This will help the end user aka truck driver with vehicle breakdowns to find service centers using their mobile devices. (Phase II) 8. Product Configurator with customized paints and logos (Phase II) 9. Online Chat Capability (Phase II)
ABC current Order Entry process is ad-hoc and reactive. Customers drop orders within lead times, thus putting a heavy burden on Manufacturing and Distribution to deliver goods on time. In some cases, ABC has to pay premium freight to meet delivery dates or take promised orders from other customers. Most of the time, there is no traceability of order changes. And these prices are not validated and corrected before the order is invoiced. This causes a great amount of customer’s dissatisfaction and is our highest complaint from customers during yearly sales reviews.
The online business model can be used to alleviate the dissatisfaction by providing customers with detailed and timely information. The website can also help with tracking of order changes along with providing timely notification to customers of order changes, deliveries, delays and price corrections. The website can also help with our product branding strategy in North America as well as around the globe. It will help with cross selling of products and also build awareness of our product lines. Currently, our wheels customers will only buy wheels. Customers who buy drums do not buy wheels or vice-versa.
Having a well-defined, intuitive website will help in cross-selling our products. Online Competitor Analysis ABC Corporation is a Tier 1 Supplier to commercial vehicle manufacturers, service shops, distributors and independent business fleet owners. The Online consumer model is a Business-to-Business (B2B) channel. In this B2B mode, most of the order information on the web is customer specific and controlled by user profile and security. ABC major competitors in the wheels market is Alcoa and Iochpe-Maxion. In the Wheel-End market, the competitors are KIC and Webb Wheel.
ABC also has independent distributors who would provide additional sales channel to the end users. None of the manufacturing competitors have utilized the web to provide value added services to customers. Their website is setup to provide basic product information to customers in Portable Document Format (PDF) but there is no feedback or collaborative tools to help the customer have a long lasting and memorable experience. Here are some of the current website examples of ABC direct competitors. Most of the competitors have a similar web theme shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3.
They do not look at the internet as a medium to increase customer demand or improve the product image and branding. Figure 2: KIC Website Figure 3: Webb Wheel Website. There are independent online part distributors such as truckspring. com which have the capabilities of a modern e-commerce website such as shopping cart, customer service and search capabilities. However, most of them are for automotive and consumer trucks instead of commercial trucking. The commercial trucking components market is in the infant stages of E-Commerce and if ABC will build a good website, they can become the trend setter in the Commercial Vehicle market.
The website can be shown at different truck trade shows which will help educate customers on the product lines but also on additional value added services which will help with product differentiation and product dependency. Additional capabilities can be built-in later on the website for new product launches, discussion forums and even online chat capabilities for future products Research and Development (R&D). Online marketing ABC needs to undergo a major overhaul of their current website. The new website needs to follow the usability guidelines recommended by MIT and other industry standard organizations.
There is also a www. usability. gov website which also provides some good understanding of how to develop a useable and useful website. This standard approach will leverage the default look and feel of most websites and build on the already comfortable customer experience. On special occasions, the website should display a full screen view of ABC products to elaborate special promotions or new products to grab customer’s attention. The website can be further marketed online by buying banner space in all Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) websites along with key Parts Distributors and buying groups.
A catchy marketing phrase will be helpful to build brand recognition and retention of ABC products. The two main online marketing strategies are 1. Product Differentiation: To provide value added services to customers and 2. Product Branding: Build brand awareness on ABC products across the globe. The initial plan of the website is to target current customer segments and position our products and services to make it a better value proposition. This will help build a brand loyalty which can be used as a stepping stone for growth in future local and global markets.
The marketing team will leverage over 35 years of quality and great customer care services the company is known for. ABC is one of the few companies who will expedite parts to truckers having mechanical breakdown without charging for freight or premium price. The message of caring for our customers will help emotionally connect our brand with existing and new customers. Search engine strategies The website should definitely follow the strategy laid out by most experts on how the users use search sites like google. com, bing. com and yahoo. com to find information.
Here are some of the search engine recommendations 1. Marketing professional should use common key words and combinations across all of ABC pages. They should identify keywords which can be used by customers to search for products associated to ABC. IT professionals should use these keywords in key places within the rendered file which will be used by search engine programs to link the keywords with ABC website. 2. ABC should market the program with our key manufacturers and affiliated buyers to provide links to ABC from their multiple websites.
Having these links help search engines to improve the PageLink metrics which will bring the search engines to organically bring our results to the forefront (hopefully the first 5 entries on the first page) 3. ABC will be proactive and monitor search results on a regular basis. Some of the major search engines provide tips on how to optimize search results. A good site map helps Google and other search engines to get detail information about the site. Online Customer Relationship Management ABC will establish good operational and collaborative web tools to create a new online Customer Relationship experience.
These operational and collaborative features with additional analytics tools will enable sales and marketing department to identify new opportunities and even track customer satisfaction and market penetration of goods. The website will also enable ABC to measure the Online Customer Relationship Value. The features will be prioritized based on the additional value it will add to ABC in terms of improved financial benefits, increased customer satisfaction and building a high quality global brand. The following operational and collaborative features will be the heart of the new design.
The following services can be provided to customers based on priority set by user feedback. Most of the services mentioned below will also help in enabling effective and efficient processes and help reduce the current workload on our customer service and sales personnel. The additional time savings can be used to provide new instant online collaborative services. Here are some of the services recommended for the new online business: ·Order Entry with customer specific products with images along with customer specific prices and delivery date confirmation.
The application will also provide recommended add-ons and possible new products to help with cross-selling. For example: if a customer is looking for wheels, there is a possibility that the customer might need a brake drum or rotors or even a Tire Pressure Measurement Sensor (TPMS). ·Order Management. The website will provide a shopping cart layout where customers can view their current orders and/or modify orders which are not shipped out. Additional shipping and handling charges may be applied. The website will send email notification on confirmed orders. Order Tracking. The customer will be able to check the status of orders online. Emails will be sent out which will also enable customers to track orders via a link embedded in the email. ·Warranty: Customers will be able to create warranty claims online. This will enable customers to contact field engineering and provide detail information of the product along with attachments. The customer will then be able to quickly determine if the claim is covered under warranty and whether they will get credit, replacement or a voucher for the purchase. Return Authorization: This will allow customer to return goods back to ABC based on multiple reasons such as wrong shipped products, annual returns or quality issues related with shipped product. ·Product Catalog: This feature will help build awareness to all products ABC delivers to the marketplace. The search capability will greatly enhance customer’s curiosity and will also help in cross-selling other products which the customer is not aware off. This will also help with product awareness in major global markets since the product catalog can be configured and searched for multiple languages.
The product catalog can also be configured to allow the end user to search by Truck Manufacturer and Model and provide them with all related products which can be used. ·Key Metrics to help give customer feedback on Orders and Open Account Receivables ·Access to Customer Service and Field Engineers for help with product usage. ·Locate service shops within a specified range. This will help the end user aka truck driver with vehicle breakdowns and servicing of trucks and also build brand loyalty. ·Online Chat Capability: The feature can be used to provide online help to customers.
The website will also automatically show the Online Chat screen based on user profile. If the user is new to the site and using product catalog, the website can display the Online Chat window. ·Competitive Product Analysis with substitution and price comparison. ·Ability to record visits from customers as well as all key interactions metrics along with Reports and Dashboards to measure the effectiveness of the website. ABC should use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social plug-in connections to build upon customer feedback and create a social community of people interested in ABC.
Forums and Blogs will help create customer interaction with the company and also with other customers. Website should be monitored to make sure any issues related to the product and services are responded with professionalism and tact in a timely manner. Promotions can be emailed and tweeted in a timely and personalized manner to bring customers back for additional purchases. Appendix A and Appendix B outline the proposed website index and a design mock-up of some of the pages proposed for the new website. E-Commerce Model
ABC has an in-house staff of highly qualified software and system engineers. It also has the necessary infrastructure to manage internet web, data, chat and mail servers along with the high speed dedicated connections to access the internet. The infrastructure team currently runs a secure Wide Area Network which connects all 19 of ABC facilities across USA, Canada and Mexico across the public internet. The team already has created a high level of security layer to prevent hacking or malicious attack like denial of service from outsiders on any of our servers and machines.
The company also has industry accepted software tools in its arsenal to develop website and the associated modules needed to support a high quality and collaborative website. Microsoft has created multiple web software tools which can be used by the company to develop content and also manage the content dynamically by non-technical personnel. Microsoft Commerce Server will be utilized to build a comprehensive solution for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) scenarios.
It has built-in functionality to support profile management and registration, address lists, shopping carts, checkouts, credit checks, payment processing, order histories, advertisements, product reviews and ratings, integrated search, maps for store locations and even mobility access to Windows Mobile and IPhone devices. This solution will also help with seamless integration to the back end enterprise systems related to inventory management, distribution, finance, product prices as well as scheduling of manufacturing facilities or Just in Time Demand Management. International Plan Currently, 99% of product sales are in the North America and the North American market is expected to grow at 2-3% with most of the heavy duty truck manufacturers looking at emerging markets in Asia and South America to expand their operations and growth. The current marketing research shows that China, India and Brazil are the fastest growing commercial vehicle sectors globally with growth forecasted to be in the 10-12% per annum starting in 2014.
The redesigned website will assist the marketing group to determine how to proceed with ABC global expansion plans. The new website will help brand our products consistently around the world and can be used to build good brand recognition around the globe in commercial vehicle segment. The website will be designed to support key languages around the globe besides English and Spanish. The new website should be designed to support multiple languages such as Mandarin, Hindi and Portuguese to support the emerging markets.
The corporation must also create a marketing representative office in the emerging markets to build relationships with current regional Original Equipment manufacturers as well as local distributors and service shops. This will help the marketing group to then target high growth products and position these products with specific promotions to gain market share. Key marketing individuals will be trained on cultural and local traditions. The marketing staff will be augmented with local support staff to help with language and trade barriers.
To support the initial global growth, the company will export products from North America into strategic warehouses operated by local affiliated distributors across the targeted growth areas to be sold to new customers. Since ABC products are synonymous with high quality, the products should be considered for price skimming. Over time, the company should look at expanding operations in the targeted areas if the sales goals have been achieved and the demand for the products is expanding.
The company should look for Joint ventures with current manufacturers or setup an independent manufacturing operation depending on capital outlays needed. Projected Web Development and Maintenance Costs The following will be the project plan for the implementation of the new site. The corporation already has the necessary network and hardware infrastructure in place along with Domain Name Server (DNS) Registration. The company will utilize new virtualization technology to add more web servers to the website based on usage traffic.
The internal application development team will be used to design the webpages and its content. Marketing personnel will write all of the content displayed on the page to take into account search engine optimization and also use industry specific keywords which can be used to associate our products with user searches. The website will be developed in phases and ABC will have to spend money on doing a customer market survey to determine customer needs and the priority of features which would help them use our products and improve customer relations.
Sales personnel have already provided key insight on the customer needs in the e-commerce environment. Money will be budgeted to help market the new website and create awareness of the changes. Banners will be created at key manufacturers and distributor conferences along with targeted email campaigns, paper advertisements in trucking magazines and online banner ads in key websites. The Sales and Marketing group will also create time-specific online promotions to drive users to utilize the website.
The company along with Customer Service will also make call to current customers and help them with navigation and usage of the website to educate the customers on new services being provided especially in Order Management, Order Tracking and Returns. Table 2 below highlights the tasks which will be undertaken for the online business expansion project #|Project Tasks|Time| |Planning Phase| | 1| Planning Meeting (discuss goals and objectives)|1 day| 2| Website Requirements Survey to groups of customers|1-2 week| 3| Survey Analysis|1 day| 4| Kick-off Meetings to Discuss Business, Branding and Scope of Website|2 days| | | | Business Requirements Phase| | 5|List of Functional Requirements with Priority|1 week| 6|Design Needs (Look and Feel)|2 days| 7|Search Engine Optimization Analysis |2 days| 8|Key Messages|1 day| 9|Technical Requirements Review for Infrastructure|1 day| 10|Site Map and Page List |1 week| 11|UI Design Concepts|1 day| 12|Prioritized Target Keyword List|2 days| 13|Marketing Plan to drive traffic to new website|1 week| | | | |Development of Website| | 14|Page Creations|1 month| 15|Development of Contents on each page|1 month| 16|Integration with Back End ERP Systems|1 month| 17|Integrate third party applications|1 month| 8|Creating Metadata, Launch Pages and Style-sheets|1 week| | | | |Testing & Go Live| | 19|Integration Testing (plugins, content, etc. )|2 weeks| 20|User Acceptance Testing in multiple languages|2 weeks| 21|Deploy Solution to Production Environment|1 week| 22|Start Marketing Campaign|1 week| 23|Turn Site Live| 1 day| 24|Training| Ongoing| 25|Support| Ongoing| Table 2: High Level Steps for Online Business Project Most of the personnel cost of development and infrastructure will be part of the current IT budget since ABC has staff to implement the e-commerce solution in the timely manner.
Table 3 below shows some of the additional estimated cost related to the online e-business expansion. #|Areas|Cost| 1|Virtualized Servers for Test, UA and Production|$25,000| 2|Enterprise Wide Commerce Server|$10,000| 3|Surveys|$1,000| 4|External Graphics Consultants for Product Images and Videos|$20,000| 5|Initial Advertisements (online, banners, magazines)|$50,000| 6|Affiliate Programs discounts per year via landing pages|$20,000| | | | |Total|$126,000| Table 3: Estimated Project Cost Appendix A: Proposed Website Index [->0] – http://www. accuridecorp. com